Virgin Atlantic has taken delivery of its latest A350-1000. Registered G-VDOT, the aircraft was delivered from Toulouse to Manchester at lunchtime yesterday, marking the first A350 delivery for the airline since G-VJAM arrived in October 2019.
DOT took off from the Airbus plant in Toulouse at 12:15 local time yesterday. After around an hour and a half in the sky, she touched down at Manchester Airport. Photographer Anthony Bryant caught some wonderful images of the plane’s arrival into MAN.
— Anthony Bryant (@AWBPhotography) September 9, 2020
With this arrival, Virgin has welcomed its fifth A350-1000 to the fleet. Having phased out its Boeing 747s earlier this year, the airline is relying on these for its high capacity future operations. They will be complemented by the 14 smaller A330s and 17 787-9s, bringing its total fleet number to 42.
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We were thrilled to cover the arrival of @VirginAtlantic G-VDOT to @manairport yesterday on our live stream! Live concurrent viewers peaked over 3500 giving her a huge welcome to our great airport! pic.twitter.com/tIvu27aEfQ
— Airliners Live (@airlinerslive) September 10, 2020
About the new A350
Virgin’s latest A350 is registered G-VDOT. Its name, as all Virgin aircraft have to have a name, is Ruby Slipper. In case you’re not clear, it’s a Wizard of Oz reference and, in usual Virgin style, is very clever. She joins G-VJAM Queen of Hearts, G-VLUX Red Velvet, G-VPOP Mamma Mia and G-VPRD Rain Bow in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.
Although DOT is currently in Manchester, she’s not going to be stationed there permanently. For the time being, she’ll be parked at Manchester while some interior modifications are made, before eventually joining her sisters at Heathrow.
G-VDOT is not a brand new aircraft. In fact, she’s been flying for more than three and a half years as an Airbus test aircraft. As MSN 071, she was only the second A350-1000 to roll off the production line, the first being MSN 065, which was delivered to Air Caribes in December 2019.
Bye bye F-WWXL and welcome G-VDOT ! 🇬🇧
After conducting more than 160 test flights under the colors of Airbus between 2016 and 2019 the A350 number 071 left Toulouse today to integrate the fleet of Virgin Atlantic. ✈️#AvGeek pic.twitter.com/kX7ynmpTvL
— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) September 9, 2020
As such, there will be some final interior modifications to take care of to bring DOT up to Virgin’s exacting standards. The airline assures us that she will be absolutely like new by the time she enters service. With any luck, we’ll see her on some transatlantic trips before the end of the year, or perhaps those new flights to Pakistan.
The next two A350s
Virgin’s order was for 12 A350-1000, so there are still a few more to go. Right now, it seems that the delivery schedule is in full swing, despite the challenges that the airline has faced in recent months.
The next two to be delivered are G-VRNB Purple Rain and G-VTEA Rosie Lee. G-VRNB appears to be the next aircraft to be on its way to Virgin, having been first spotted in Toulouse in January 2020 and having taken its first flight in May.
G-VRNB has now taken 10 flights from Toulouse, the last of which took place this week, on September 8th. It’s marked by AIBFamily as a customer acceptance flight. There may be one more customer acceptance flight to go, but then we should see this aircraft heading over to the UK to join Virgin’s fleet. Insiders have pegged the delivery date at September 23rd.
When him you love❤, so there is nothing to deal❤. Whom? "Purple rain". Another Airbus A350-1000✈ (with registration "G-VRNB"), which is being prepared for delivery of the airline Virgin Atlantic🇬🇧. In full preparation😍❣ (very nice photos Clément Alloing👍👍). pic.twitter.com/zgxZEZ4ENg
— Tomáš Semrád (@Tomas40916602) July 7, 2020
The next A350, Rosie Lee, took its first flight in July and has so far completed five flights. As such, we’d estimate acceptance and delivery taking place perhaps in October. This will take the fleet to seven A350-1000s.
Another #Airbus #A35k #A350 for @VirginAtlantic #GVTEA #RosieLee on thid test flight this afternoon ! and also an #Airbus A320neo for @KuwaitAirways #9KAKO towed.#avgeeks #avgeek #Toulouse #Airport pic.twitter.com/twWK5EDh1R
— Clément Alloing (@CAlloing) August 20, 2020
It’s not clear when the final three will be delivered, although the original order showed deliveries taking place through 2021. Virgin has mooted pushing back aircraft deliveries as part of its restructuring plan, in order to save £880 million over the next five years. As such, it could be a while before any more A350s arrive with the airline.